This Saturday the whole world will witness the Coronation of King Charles III. This is a highly symbolic and religious event, with the King being made the ‘Defender of Faith’ as Head of the Church of England. King Charles has been a huge patron of diversity and faith – 20 years ago I served on the Prince’s Trust advisory committee on diversity.
Over the years he has visited many faith centres in Britain and globally and he has been a big fan of the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London which he has visited many times. It is depicted in the special Coronation stamp on Community and Diversity shown here.
Our modern system of science and education is very secular and faith is often seen as backward or regressive, either directly or indirectly. However, historic Universities like Oxford and Cambridge were built by the Church and have a large number of Churches in the heart of the campus. We live in a very paradoxical world and King Charles’ commitment to the environment and inter-faith relations is laudable. He understands that faiths represent different perspectives on truth, and they can coexist and add richness to our spiritual quest. They are banks of scientific wisdom too.
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The Coronation represents an opportunity for the Indian diaspora to celebrate our own Dharmic wisdom traditions and obtain their rightful place in the world. King Charles recognises the importance of communities as hubs of peace, cooperation and spiritual nourishment and knows that these values cannot come from a purely secular world. We can use the Coronation as an opportunity to revive and reinvigorate our sense of community and wellbeing. We should teach cooperation and selflessness in our university economics and business courses as keys to sustainable coexistence.
The Coronation can energise our inter-faith dialogues by making peace in our neighbourhoods and extending these to a national and international level. We must endeavour to bring faith back into our universities and remove the ignorance and negativity. Otherwise, our mental health crises will worsen.
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Professor Atul K. Shah [@atulkshah] teaches and writes about Indian wisdom on business, culture and community at various UK universities and is a renowned international author, speaker and broadcaster.